RE-Training for tug drive - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-23-2009, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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RE-Training for tug drive

I have a 3yr old GSD that I got as a 4 month old pup. He was very drivey as a pup, but he was killing my chickens and trying to kill my cats so I took him to puppy and obedience classes and esentially trained all the drive out of him. Now he's a well mannered house dog. I do agility and obedience with him, he really turns on in agility. I know he'll never be a top competator or even a competator at all, but I'd like to try schutzhund with him. The problem is he has no tug/toy drive. I'll hand him a toy and he'll hold it, carry it around, but the second I put any pressure against the toy to tug, he spits it out. He is very food motivated and I do his other training with food. What can I do to retrain the tug/toy drive, or is it a hopeless case?
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-23-2009, 12:38 PM
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Re: RE-Training for tug drive

Find a good club with a good helper and they may be able to bring out the drive again.

Lisa Clark

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-23-2009, 12:41 PM
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Re: RE-Training for tug drive

You can try. If the drive is still there (genetically) and has been inhibited through raising and training, you may be able to get him to situationalize enough to the SchH field where he will express his drive there, even though he's been taught it isn't appropriate to express at home. It'll be tough though.

My advice would be to take him to a SchH club and have him evaluated. Maybe he'll be willing to play with a stranger away from home, even if he isn't willing to play with you. The club can also show you how to play with him properly and give you some tips and tricks to give you the best chance of success bringing his drive out again.

I'd also suggest buying or making a "puppy fishing pole". Its a larger, dog version of those cat toys with the toy on the end of a string attached to a pole.

This serves 2 main purposes, both of which will be important in your case. First, having the toy on the end of a string on the end of a pole allows you to very easily and without much effort get quick, random, jerkey movements... think scurrying bunny rabbit. These are the types of movements that are the most attractive to a dog's prey drive. Second, it also gets you out of the picture. The chasing and tugging happens a bit away from you, reducing your influence and any intimidation on your part. You can put pressure on and tug while being several feet away. This may help him get over his inhibition to playing with you, and once the behavior is built and he learns that it's ok and fun, you can gradually work your way closer so the two of you are playing tug more directly.

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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-23-2009, 01:46 PM
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Re: RE-Training for tug drive

I've got a working line bitch who is a breeze to train in rally, obedience, and agility but she doesn't tug either. I don't know enough about the technique to comment but the three things that have worked best for us are: 1) a piece of raw chicken in some tube socks (I use 2-3 b/c one will just rip immediately), 2) a long branch that has fallen from a tree, I drag it along the ground and she attacks the sticks on the end, and 3) this Crunch 'N Tug toy (link below). The raw meat gets her tugging b/c hey, it's raw meat! The stick and Crunch work b/c like Chris said, they put distance between us and allow her to come from the side, not straight head on.

She has some prey drive and she will grip, but when I apply resistance she immediately submits and lets go, like she's too submissive to think she should tug back. So, whenever we try we take it reeeeeeally slow. I try to get her revved up, keep the toy low and moving in quick, jerky movements. I keep it behind me (drag it) or off to the side so she's not put off by having to come straight on. Anytime she does grip the toy and give a couple tugs, I try to let go and let her "win" before she drops it for me, and when she gets it, I praise her and sort of kneel next to her and rub her chest so that she stands there holding it and learns it's OK to hold the toy (any quick movement or noise I make she will drop it for me and step back).

What's funny is that all of my dogs will tug tug tug ALL day with each other, I mean every day they are tugging on sticks or ripping a new toy in half. She tugs with both my other dogs and she's like the "champion" of the dog-on-dog tug so I know it's there and I know she enjoys doing it, just has to learn it's OK with people too.
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